Leading skills study identifies key trends

The Labour Market Intelligence Partnership, a collaboration between the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and a national research consortium has identified key trends and made five key recommendations in its report on skills supply and demand in South Africa.



The report found that:

  • A key constraint to sustainable job creation is the structural mismatch between labour demand and supply.
  • Economic growth has favoured high-skilled workers, but most people have low-level skills and employment growth has not been sufficient to absorb the large numbers of youth, resulting in escalating unemployment.
  • The level of education in South Africa is lower than in most economically productive countries.
  • Access to schools, universities and TVET colleges has improved but problems with quality lead to low progression and low completion rates.
  • A critical constraint is the inadequate quality of basic education and the pool of students who can potentially access university- and science-based TVET programmes is small relative to skills demands.
  • Almost half the employed and 60% of the unemployed don’t have a matric certificate, indicating that many could benefit from education and training.
  • There is a need to enrol and graduate higher numbers of people in STEM, building and construction, metal machinery and related trades programmes.
  • Less than half of managers, senior officials, technicians and associate professionals have a tertiary
  • Nearly half of graduates are employed in the community, social and personal services sector.
  • A high proportion of science and engineering graduates prefer to work in financial services as opposed to manufacturing.
  • The shares of Africans and women in the workforce have been increasing, and the levels of education of the workforce, especially of the African population have increased, and enrolment and graduations at universities and TVET colleges are more reflective of South Africa’s demographics.



  • The economy should move towards more labour-intensive growth to absorb growing levels of labour market entrants, requiring changes to industrial policy and development pathways.
  • Stronger coordination between growth and industrial policies and skills policies is needed, and strategies need to take skills requirements into account, or there will be implementation
  • The quality of basic education, which is the key constraint to higher education, must improve and the number of teachers increase. The supply of graduates in certain subjects should increase and they should be supported by improved workplace experience and mentorships. Skills training for unemployed youth should be prioritised. Targets and funding should be reviewed to increase enrolments in certain areas in line with skills needed.
  • Workplaces must review their recruitment strategies and salaries for The large number of well-paid graduates in the public sector is distorting the labour market and the private-sector is not attracting graduates.
  • The DHET must work closely with Statistics South Africa and government departments to collect data for skills planning.

DHET News is the online home for news generated by the Department of Higher Education and Training's e-bulletin.

Posted in December2016

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